Oops!

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I did not mean to share the last post that was accidentally sent out and I cannot delete it if you subscribed via email!  It was meant as a private journal post for another anonymous blog I do.  Please ignore!  Just random inner ramblings:). Colour me embarassed 😳

Monthly Goal Setting

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Writing this post so that I can meet all of February goals:)

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And here are my goals so far for March:

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December to remember thus far.

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December is half way over and I still haven’t shared our “Dexter Family Advent Calendar of Holiday Experiences” (that’s a mouthful)! What can I say? We have been too busy having fun doing all of the fun activities with Ben.

Here’s the complete list:). πŸ‘= success!

1. Skate date at Cottonwood Lake πŸ‘
2. Fetch a tree in the woods πŸ‘
3. Decorate Christmas tree πŸŽ„πŸ‘
4. Bake and decorate shortbread cookies for friends and the Food Cupboard πŸ‘
5. Dance in front of the tree to Christmas music πŸ‘
6. Take Ben to Whitewater Ski Hill and strap on his first skis πŸ‘
7. Photo with Santa Clause πŸŽ…πŸ‘
8. Take Ben cross-country skiing in the Chariot πŸŽΏπŸ‘
9. Watch SNL Holiday Special and lighting of tree in Rockefeller Centre πŸ‘
10. Build Ben’s first snowman and make tiny snow angels β›„οΈπŸ‘
11. Elf Walk on Baker Street πŸ‘
12. Holiday Train at Lakeside Park πŸ‘
13. Snowy walk along the waterfront β„οΈπŸ‘
14. Make homemade holiday decorations and Christmas cards πŸ‘
15. Have friends over for Rum and Eggnog’s and holiday goodies.
16. Skate at Lion’s Park outdoor skating rink or public skating depending on weather
17. Night time cross-country skiing on tracks with Ben in backpack using headlamp
18. Family ski tour (very green run on the way to ski hill).
19. Neighbourhood walk to enjoy the Christmas lights.
20. Share favourite memories of holidays’ passed.
21. Make ornaments out of Ben’s Santa photos.
22. Facetime Christmas Carol Sing-along with the East Coast Dexter’s.
23. Family day at the ski hill–take Ben down the bunny hill on his skis.
24. Mum and Dad Christmas puppet show for Ben.

So far, we have been having a phenomenal time enjoying so many holiday experiences together, rather than consuming, consuming, consuming. It’s been just wonderful and really awakens the true meaning of Christmastime for me: time spent with loved ones, enjoying all of the gifts of the season that are not found in shopping malls. A beautiful Dexter tradition that we plan to keep up for the years to come.

Here are a few photos, in no particular order, of our holiday activities thus far:

I made festive decorations for our 24 days of Dexter and strung them along our breakfast bar as a reminder to do something fun and festive as a family each day
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Ben’s Santa photos from 2012 & 2013~quelle diffΓ©rence!
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Cross-country skiing on the path above our house.
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Frosted lashes from said ski!
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Enjoying the holiday band at “Elf Walk”. Santa arrived in a firetruck and lit the tree!
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Fetching our Christmas tree in the woods.
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Decoration of our adorable Charlie Brown tree complete:)
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Holiday Train!
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Baking & decorating shortbread cookies.

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All packaged up for friends and the food hamper.
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Enjoying this wintry view from our kitchen as we share breakfast.
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Ben’s first “sleigh ride” in the Chariot at the cross-country ski area.
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I have had one of the best Decembers I can recall and I am so looking forward to what the next half of the month has to bring! This afternoon we attempted to go public skating with Ben (in his stroller) but they changed the schedule at the last minute and there was a hockey game going on, so we improvised and strolled Baker Street to enjoy some window shopping as the snow fell. Festive nonetheless! We are having our dear friends and their baby girl for supper tonight because joy is best shared:).

I hope you are enjoying lots of wonderful holiday experiences. Happy holidays from our family to yours. XOX

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A shift in perspective.

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A simple shift in perspective can change your whole day.

As I peeled my eyes apart and stumbled towards the coffee pot this morning, I was greeted by this wintry scene.

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My first reaction, honestly?

Ugh.

But then I caught myself (which is happening more and more quickly these days and becoming almost automatic). I reminded myself that my experience is as good or as bad as I make it out to be. I can choose a good day or a not-so-good day.

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How liberating, self-empowering, and confidence building to remember that we are not controlled by external circumstances! Β  This realization feels better than a summer’s day at the beach. Β  Our internal environment isΒ everything. The best part? You and you alone have control over your internal environment. No one and nothing else. No, really. It took me awhile to get this, but I’m starting to understand and apply this on a deep level.

With this in mind, I let go of my need to control the day and chose to flow with the stream rather than struggle against the current. Β The stream was a gorgeous winter’s Β day. Β Could I hike or go for a run as easily as I used to? Β No. Β But guess what I could do?

Build a snowman with my son.

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Make tiny snow-angels.
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Eat the (non-yellow) snow.
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Dig out my winter gear to get pumped for the new season and all of the activities Ben, daddy, and I can share together.

These skookum strap-on shoes will literally get you up a glacier. I use these to hike in the winter.
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I also dusted off my cross-country ski gear. Added bonus–we have a gorgeous trail right out my back door. In fact, you can follow it all the way to Cottonwood Lake where we have been skating.
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Justin and I are so looking forward to taking Ben for his first cross-country ski in the Chariot.
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After a coffee date with my mum and girlfriend Diana, I had loads of energy and enjoyed an awesome workout on my covered deck home-gym. Here is my wobble board that I balance on and do weights, plus a yoga mat for poses and stretches.
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Having my road-bike set up on a trainer outside is rocking my socks off. I love being able to look out at the lake and cycle in my tank top or with a toque and gloves on, while Ben naps and I watch his baby monitor. Super cool.
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We had an epic winter weekend! Family skate day on Saturday on the frozen lake, which I cannot stop dreaming about, it was that amazing.
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Snowy hike to Pulpit to enjoy this view from the top.
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Capped off by a trip to Whitewater Ski Hill.
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We went there on the same weekend last year when Ben was itty bitty:
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Just look at him now. This is hard for me to believe!
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Family shot from last year…
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And this year…
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I can’t believe my little boy is already on skis! We are so excited to take him on the bunny hill this year.
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I’m really looking forward to getting my craft-on this evening, making our 24 Days of Dexter Christmas Experiences advent calendar. We have already done a couple from the list (skiing and skating) with Ben. I will share the rest of our list when I finish it up!
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This is going to my theme this winter, what about you?
 

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Lastly–here is a link to my current favourite Christmas song. Ben and I danced around the living room this morning and he absolutely would not stop smiling!
Current Fav Christmas Tune

Just do a little better.

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Confession: I have been ridiculously bad with money for the majority of my adult life.

I was given anything I needed growing up and also taught skills with money, yet I didn’t seem to really grasp the concept of how critical it is to be wise when it comes to one’s finances until very recently. I suppose, as with anything in life, it takes time and personal experience in order to really learn the value.

When I speak of the value of money, I am not talking about how it is the most important thing in life–it’s not.

What is important to me?

Family, friendship, memorable experiences and helping others. The East Coast Dexter Clan have taught me how important family and friendship are and I will be forever grateful for having these wonderful folks come into my life. Not only have I been able to enjoy a relationship with them, but I’ve also been able to enjoy my own family and friends more. These are the values I hope to instil in Ben.

So, if money isn’t what matters, then why is being smart with it important?

It’s simple–having the freedom to make decisions based on what you want to do with your life, and having the time and resources available to enjoy quality experiences with friends and family requires money. Helping others who are worse off requires money.

Being on maternity leave this past year has afforded me the opportunity to realize just how much I value freedom and making my own decisions about how to spend my day, as well as the ability to enjoy time with my friends and family.

I am fortunate to have a wonderful job, and I do intend on making meaningful connections with my students when I return and creating a positive environment at my place of employment; yet I have become more acutely aware of how I will have less freedom to do what I want with my family if I continue to spend right into the pockets of the big corporations who are preying on us all.

I’ve been a victim but I intend to be less of one beginning slowly, starting now. I do not want to be as wasteful as I have in the past, spending my family’s hard-earned money needlessly, carelessly, and on the wrong things.

Where do I want my money to go?

I want to have money to spend on sharing experiences with loved ones and giving to those who are less fortunate. I don’t want to waste it on stuff. I don’t want Ben to grow up accumulating things.

A ton of presents under the tree with the accompanying packaging and waste just feels really wrong to me, and more and more. It’s reaching the level where I turn on the TV and see the holiday commercials and find it sickening. Just because everyone else is doing something and it seems normal doesn’t mean it is: I think the Christmas Consumerism is complete and utter insanity and I know I am not alone.

People all over are waking up to the ridiculousness of it, and at times like Christmas it is a real wake up call to how we overspend not just during the holidays but throughout the year.

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Call me cheap or uncaring, but that’s not my intention. I do want to spend money where it’s going to contribute to something shared, meaningful, and memorable. Toys and stuff, no thanks. My friend was laughing about how her son received a big birthday gift yet all he wanted to do was play in the box.

This is hardly my own brilliance or a novel idea. More and more, people are beginning to understand this and share ideas on social media that lean towards the philosophy of downsizing: spending less and enjoying more quality time doing simpler things.

After all, disease, depression, anxiety, obesity, and unhappiness of many varieties are higher in North America than in many other poorer parts of the world. CLEARLY, WHAT WE ARE DOING IS NOT WORKING! STUFF IS NOT MAKING US ANY HAPPIER! It’s making us work harder and live unhealthy, high stress, anxious, addicted lives in order to buy more of what’s not making us happy, while the rich corporations are laughing all the way to the bank.

In my opinion, we really have no business spending money that we don’t have. Families in debt (mine included), towns in debt, countries in debt–until we are all debt-free and also able to help the starving and oppressed, it really seems absolutely ridiculous and downright unintelligent to be spending money that we don’t have!

I am taking responsibility for my own spending. if you like to spend money, float your boat, just don’t expect me to do the same. I won’t jump on a sinking ship.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an iPhone, a few nice clothes, skis, and many other creature comforts. We don’t drive expensive vehicles (our 1990 rusted out Honda Accord is driven with pride, and our “brand new” vehicle is still a ’99). I don’t buy the best of everything. I love Lululemon clothing but I started selling my old Lulu online before I allow myself to buy a few new items. I only buy a couple of Lulu items per year and that is the most expensive clothes shopping I do.

However, I do have a big diamond ring and other jewellery, and even that is starting to feel like, “Why”? At least clothes keep us warm. I do appreciate the sentiment behind gifts; however, as I stated above, it just feels like the wrong thing to do in this economic climate and with the all of the problems in the world.

Am I still a part of the consumer culture I am disparaging? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean I can’t do my best to make a change, within my own small sphere of control. I intend to keep this in mind as I spend and save money over the decades to come. Will I do this perfectly? Definitely not, but I will do better.

Sure, I haven’t been the smartest for the last fifteen years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start now. It’s never too late.

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On that note, Justin and I have decided to create a “Dexter Family Experiences” Advent Calendar. We are going to brainstorm 24 different fun experiences that we can do together as a family throughout the month of December and choose one for each day.

For example, dancing to Christmas music with Ben, going for a snowy walk in the woods to fetch a Christmas tree, watching a Christmas movie, going for a walk to see the neighbourhood lights, building a snowman, having Facetime dates with our East Coast family, just to name a few. We are going to spread out the joy of holidays throughout the month instead of focusing on one day. Who wants to join me?

In the past, when I have tried to overhaul any aspect of my life, I usually end up giving up because I want things to change quickly and I put too much pressure on myself to “go big or go home”. I have found success lately in just changing a few simple things–in essence, making change easy and do-able. These small things will eventually lead to big things.

Here are a few things that I am doing lately to be wiser with money.

First off, I am trying to do things with my family that are free such as hiking, outdoor skating, going for walks, sleeping in a back-country cabin with friends, packing a lunch, making a dinner together at home, dancing with Ben in the living room, are all fun and cheap things we have done recently.

Also, Justin lights awesome and cozy winter fires daily in order to cut down on heating bills. I just got a tutorial on lighting my own fires on Youtube. I am also turning out lights when I leave rooms or leave the house. Simple but this will add up over the years.

Secondly, I am going to track our spending for a month in order to see just how much we spend in each area, which may motivate us to make a few more tweaks to slow down our spending. I just grabbed a few envelopes and Justin and I will save our receipts for the next month.

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I’m even cutting coupons–for needs only (ie, food)! It’s not a deal if you didnt need it in the first place. This may become my new hobby….extreme couponing!
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I’m also going to keep track of our expenses on a spreadsheet. I am starting small and easy by putting our receipts in envelopes, and then I will enter them into this Excel spreadsheet.

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Historically, I have given up on achieving certain goals because I made them too difficult. By breaking up the goal of being more fiscally responsible into manageable chunks, I feel good about my ability to do “just a little better”. Eventually, this “little better” will become “much better”, and I feel really right about doing this for my family. If I start now, my dream of being money wise will be a reality.
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Ice skating on Cottonwood Lake.

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Something really cool happened round these parts: Cottonwood Lake froze before it snowed, allowing us to enjoy a
quintessential winter experience!

In all my years of growing up in the Kootenays, I have never skated on Cottonwood Lake and now Benji’s done a few twirly birds on the frozen pond with his little girlfriend Riley at the ripe ole age of one! What a pair–notice the hockey sticks? Classic Canadian Kids right here:)

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I actually feel like a legitimate “mountain mumma” when I do activities like this with my little man and friends. Cutie pies Danielle and Riley inspired us–they are “pond regulars”, hitting the ice four times this week! Go girls!

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Ben and I were craving something hot to warm the cockles but I didn’t have any hot chocolate a la casa, so we took the easy route and allowed Starbucks to whip us up a tasty treat. Mmmmm.

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Benji was all tuckered out and wound down before his “nap” with a nice cuddle session with his favourite old school stuffies from Uncle TMitch.

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I place “nap” in quotations because little mister has been extra awake these days and not wanting to nap much at all. Just when I was getting used to a long morning and a long afternoon nap, he decided to cut them both?! Good thing he’s fun to chill with and I adore his company:). I mean, look at that smile.

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We are hoping to go skating with daddy at least once before the snow falls this weekend. There was even a nice bonfire going and a few keen folk out enjoying the open air skate, Danielle and Miss Riley being the cutest of course.

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I love these winter activities as they are what keeps me going during the short, chilly days.

Typically, I am not a huge winter fan but I am going to “Gerry it” and focus on all of the positives and winter-only activities: Ben’s first snowman, his first cross-country ski (I have a Chariot with a ski attachment), and of course, his first downhill ski (we have a pair of mini-skis and he will ride down the mountain between my legs).

Hey, I’m actually starting to get my stoke on for this whole winter thing! ⛄❄⛄❄ After all, everything is more fun with this little stud by my side.

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Big Boy Ben’s Birthday Bonanza!

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What a weekend!

Ben, Justin and I had a really wonderful time with friends and family this weekend celebrating Ben’s first year.

My little buddy and I started out by sampling a pre-party cupcake followed by a bubble bath before donning our party garb.

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Ben felt extra special because he didnt just have one birthday cake but TWO whole cakes plus a dozen cupcakes. His mumma had a great time making them!

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Ben was fascinated by the glowing candles and all of the people singing him Happy Birthday.

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One of Ben’s favourite gifts was his Superman cape which he wore for the rest of the night. His cousin Lauren loves to carry “her baby” everywhere! It doesn’t look all that comfortable but Ben never seems to mind being yanked around.

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What a lucky boy with these sweet girls to dote on him.

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My big brother and I. πŸ’™ This is special because we just reunited after not speaking for four years, a few months after Ben was born.

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After a super fun birthday party, we kept the weekend fun going by taking Ben on his first snowmobiling adventure to spend the night at Rover cabin. It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast! I even got my party on after Ben went to bed, say what?! Fun times.

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We finished up B’s big birthday bonanza with some play time at the park.

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Special shout out to the best dad this little boy could ask for and a wonderful husband who has supported me through so much.

It has been such a privilege to spend the past year with these two handsome men.

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